Locals challenge Neverland tourism plan

23rd Jul 2009

Former neighbours to Michael Jackson are mounting a protest to oppose any move to transform Neverland ranch into a tourist attraction.

Residents of California’s rural Santa Ynez Valley have formed a new group called Never!, which aims to prevent any attempts to turn the residential ranch into a commercial venue in honour of the late singer.

Group spokesman Bob Field told the Press Association that the remote Santa Ynez Valley did not have the roads, police or infrastructure to support crowds drawn to a Graceland-like tourist attraction, which he said would destroy the area’s tranquillity.

Such a development would require the property to be changed from agricultural to commercial use, a lengthy process that would require a series of public hearings where residents could express their opposition.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Nicole Koon said officials had not been contacted by the property’s owners or the Jackson family yet about any application.


Property co-owner Thomas Barrack has not proposed developing the site, but Mr Field said the Santa Ynez Valley residents wanted solid reassurances.

“We have received mixed messages, some reassuring, some troubling,” he said. “We’d like clear, concrete signs that there are no plans to pursue turning this into a tourist attraction.”

The Los Olivos Business Organisation, which consists of the wineries, restaurants and boutiques along the town’s short commercial strip, released a separate statement opposing a Graceland-like venue.


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